Q. I work mainly in acrylics and add final touches to my paintings with oil sticks. Since these are two different media, what can I use as a fixative or varnish to protect the oil stick portion from smearing? I prefer using a spray, if there is such a thing, since brushing the oil stick would smear it.
A. Oil sticks are basically oil paint in a stick form. Reportedly, some of them contain wax to make them hold together as a stick. With time the oil stick portion of your painting will dry like oil paint—it’ll just take longer. In fact, the use of oil sticks means that you should wait six to 12 months before varnishing. After your piece is thoroughly dry, you may use any varnish appropriate for acrylics. But be sure the varnish is designated for acrylic paints as well as oil paints. Golden Artist Colors (www.goldenpaints.com), Liquitex (www.liquitex.com) and Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors (www.gamblincolors.com) all make this type of varnish. But I recommend that you check with the acrylic paint manufacturer about combining oil sticks with acrylics. From a conservation standpoint, it’s not an ideal practice, and the oil stick passages might not adhere well to the acrylic paint over the long term. Most acrylic paint manufacturers make heavy-bodied colors. Using these in place of the oil sticks would be a much better practice.